BY ANGIE JACKSON
— GLEN ARBOR — Authorities released surveillance photos of a man they believe is responsible for as many as a dozen burglaries at pharmacies in Leelanau, Grand Traverse and Emmet counties.
The suspect could be linked to more than $100,000 worth of stolen narcotics since December 2007, said Leelanau sheriff's Lt. Clint Kerr. The latest occurred at Glen Arbor's Prescription Shop in September, where Kerr said the suspect struck on multiple occasions.
The man, described as 5'8" to 6' and heavy-set, typically smashes the store's front window and doesn't waste much time inside.
"He just breaks a window and enters and spends a short amount of time picking the shelves and makes his way out before law enforcement has been able to respond to the alarms," Kerr said.
Surveillance footage showed a similar person in at least six other incidents in Grand Traverse and Emmet counties.
Video of the latest Glen Arbor incident showed a man with dark clothing spent only two minutes scraping $2,000-3,000 worth of drugs into a sack, said James Bock, president of the Prescription Shop, which has four locations in northern Michigan.
Bock said he is aware of three burglaries at the Glen Arbor pharmacy and three at the Traverse City location.
Kerr said pharmacies have made efforts to better secure narcotics.
The Prescription Shop formerly kept the drugs in inventory, Bock said. The company recently invested in 500-pound safes bolted to the floor to store narcotics after the business was targeted about every six months. The Prescription Shop hasn't been broken into since September.
"I think that really just let him know that 'Hey, it’s a waste of your time'," Bock said of the visible safes.
He's worried about who may get their hands on the stolen drugs.
"If they get on the streets and get into the hands of younger folks, that would really disturb me personally quite a bit," Bock said.
That's also raised concern among authorities. Grand Traverse sheriff's Capt. Dave Meachum said there's the possibility of distribution and overdose.
"The concern is he might harm himself," he said.
Meachum said the unsolved Grand Traverse pharmacy burglaries date to 2007, with multiple occurrences at the Prescription Shop in Copper Ridge and a 2010 theft at Medicap Pharmacy in Chum's Village.
rxPatrol has offered a $3,000 reward for information leading to the suspect's arrest. An additional reward of up to $2,500 may be offered by Silent Observer, according to the Leelanau County Sheriff's Department. Information may be left anonymously on the Silent Observer Tip line at 231-947-8477, the Leelanau County Sheriff's Office Confidential Tip line at 877-256-8696, or email@example.com.